Painkiller Jane: The 22 Brides #1 (Comics Review)

Last year Painkiller Jane co-creator Jimmy Palmiotti launched a new Painkiller Jane series under the Icon Comics banner, which is apparently an imprint of Marvel. I read the first few issues, but kind of lost interest due to my burgeoning reading list. And that is a fact that I lament now since time has made me feel that I’ve missed out on something good, for the thing is that I was enjoyingthe series. I really shouldn’t have left off of it, I think. Painkiller Jane aka Jane Vasco is one of my favourite fictional characters, so I really should be doing more to justify that.

This week Jimmy Palmiotti launched a yet another Painkiller Jane mini-series, and this one is subtitled The 22 Brides. Who the said 22 Brides are, or were, is explored in a prologue to the main story, but sadly that is all it is, for it doesn’t carry forward into who the 22 Brides are in the present time, and that’s the one big negative to this issue for the main story. There is a second, somewhat unrelated story and while I enjoyed the writing, the art was a bit too goofy and stylised. Still, since Juan Santacruz is the artist on the main story and he was also the artist for the previous mini-series, I’ve got high hopes for this one as well.

Painkiller Jane - The 22 Brides 001The prologue starts off at some point in history, we are never sure which. But the setting is faux-Arabian/Indian, particularly with the concept of the harem. We see how the 22 Brides come to be formed, in a somewhat roundabout kind of way, and I’ll admit that the story was indeed interesting, and the art by Norberto Fernandez also fairly decent. I thought, once the prologue was done, that it would lead into an explanation of the 22 Brides’ identity in the more modern times, but that’s not how it turned out because we learned precious little in that regard, and I found that to be disappointing. Given that we’ve had a prologue, it should have been the matter of a few lines of narration at best to give that explanation.

But, no matter. For the central story of this new number one issue is intriguing and mysterious despite that fact. Someone is blowing up near-empty buildings in New York, and it has fallen to Jane Vasco, her girlfriend and cop Maureen Bowers, and the 22 Brides to find out just what the hell is happening. In their… modern incarnation the 22 Brides appear to be some sort of security service and also mercenaries or something, and that’s an interesting take I think, particularly since they also appear to have some dealings with the NYPD which, while don’t make them popular, also make them indispensable.

But really, the story is about Jane and Maureen and an exploration of their relationship, which I loved. As you’d expect from the co-creator of these characters (the other being Joe Quesada), Jimmy Palmiotti nails the voice for both these characters and he delivers on a really good story that you can follow along for a few issues.

There’s also a backup story here, which is more a character-building piece for Jane than it is a tie-in to the main story. This one goes into much more depth into Jane and Maureen’s relationship, with that being almost a centerpiece for the whole backup story, and was pretty good.

What, overall, I didn’t like was that the story isn’t all that new-reader friendly. I’m not a new-reader myself, but we get to see very little on Jane’s origins. Or where she is coming from after the events of the previous mini-series, which seems like an oversight. But, not too worried about that.

The prologue is drawn by Norberto Fernandez with Juan Santacruz drawing the main story and Steve Mannion doing the backup. Challenging Studios does the colours on the prologue and the main story with Paul Mounts doing the same for the backup story. Bill Tortolini is the letter on everything. Taken as a whole, the artwork in the prologue and the main story is good, with the latter being especially good, but the backup story doesn’t have good art at all. It is far too stylised and the body proportions often appear to be out of whack. Not to mention that the expressions on the characters really didn’t work for me. Still, its not all doom and gloom since Juan’s work is excellent by far and that makes up for the deficiencies, plus the fact that Paul Mounts’ colours are excellent on the backup. Mostly.

Bring on the second issue!

Rating: 8/10

More Painkiller Jane: #1, #2.

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Posted on June 8, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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